A California student with ties to the Jamestown area is well on his way in pursuit of a career in the medical field.
Jordan Kepler, a sophomore at Oceanside High School in Oceanside, California, had the opportunity to attend the first ever Congress of Future Medical Leaders conference in Washington, D.C., recently.
Jordan is the son of Joseph and Sheila Chadbourne Kepler, both of whom are from Jamestown. In 1995, Joseph joined the U.S. Marine Corps, leading to the relocation of the Kepler family a total of five times since then. The Keplers now reside in Oceanside, where Joseph maintains an active-duty status - having attained the rank of master sergeant - at the nearby Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base.
Jordan Kepler takes time to pose for a photo with his father Joseph Kepler, a Jamestown native, during the Congress of Future Medical Leaders conference in Washington, D.C. in February.
Now heading into his junior year of high school, Jordan said his passion for a career in medicine is relatively new - having had a revelation of sorts upon the passing of his grandmother, Ruth Joanne Costa Carter, in October 2012. Carter was a Jamestown resident.
"Early on in my freshman year, my grandmother - who lived (in Jamestown) - died from cancer; and seeing the condition she was in kind of inspired me to want to help people," Jordan said. "I started pushing for the medical field because I realized that I could be something greater than myself. So, I decided to pursue the care for other people."
Although not entirely steadfast in the route he wants to take, Jordan said he is most interested in becoming a neurosurgeon.
"I'm interested in the brain," he said. "As of right now, I hope to work toward the prevention and curing of things like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."
Upon his graduation from high school, Jordan hopes to attend Florida State University to major in biology and meet his pre-med requirements. After that, he hopes to attend the George Washington University School of Medicine to earn his medical degree.
Jordan's attendance to the conference is an achievement in and of itself. He was picked from students across the country for a spot in the honors program for high school students who want to become doctors or go into medical research.
Jordan said a minimum GPA of 3.5 was required for consideration, and that The Congress of Future Medical Leaders is an honors-only program. As a member of the Torch and Laurel Honor Society with a 4.0 GPA, Jordan was nominated by Dr. Connie Mariano, medical director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, to represent Oceanside High School based on his academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine.
The Congress conference ran from Feb. 14-16. Jordan said, during this time, he maintained a busy but informative schedule.
"It was definitely an interesting experience," he said. "It was kind of one of those things where you have no idea what's going to happen until you get there. And as soon as we got there, they gave us a schedule; and the schedule basically prepared me for long nights with little sleep."
During the three-day conference, Jordan and 3,500 peers attended lectures by Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners about leading medical research, and heard from patients who benefited from new discoveries. He also learned about the work of teen Google Science Fair top winners.
"The biggest thing we had to do, for the scholarship they offered, was come up with some kind of experiment that would benefit humanity in some way," he said. "It was a lot of work. It took me forever to do that, but I turned in my project and I guess we'll just wait and see how I did. I think they said they'd release (the results) in July."
Four months removed from his participation in the conference, Jordan said he has been invited back for another conference in November as a VIP attendee to recount his experience from February's conference. In order to fund his attendance for the upcoming conference, Jordan is operating a website through which he can receive donations to cover the cost of his participation.
The funding campaign is entitled "Operation Future MD," and the website can be found at www.gofundme.com/5nue0s.